There’s apparently a race going on to see what group is going to produce the first VoIP application for Facebook. (It’s surprising one hasn’t gained popularity already.) Apparently a bunch of companies have either just launched ones or are working on them: WalkieTalkie/Tag, Jangl. Others are in development.
I was recently asked to visit their offices and give my thoughts on their new application. The back-end was OK (it was based on pre-existing VoIP software), but the front-end could be generously described as pre-alpha. I gave my two cents on the Facebook application page as well as the application itself, both of which seemed to have improved from my input.
Now it looks like they’re taking it to beta, producing a “viral video” with Bitchin Kitchen‘s Nadia G. (I wouldn’t really call it “viral” since there’s nothing but a bit of excess enthusiasm that would cause people to want to share it.)
I’m not one for VoIP in the first place, so it really doesn’t matter what I think, but from a user interface standpoint, my biggest issue with the software was that it’s a downloadable program instead of a web app. They’ve tried to make it as painless as possible, but I still have this .jnlp file on my desktop. Getting people to accept the “do you want to download this executable file” dialog is a pretty big step.
Whether or not it’ll be a dealbreaker for users remains to be seen.